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February 12, 2014

Lockheed Martin Proves U.S. Navy's MUOS Satellites Can Solve Arctic's Communication Challenges

Bethesda, Md. based Lockheed Martin (News - Alert) recently demonstrated that the U.S. Navy's Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) satellites may help solve communication challenges in the Arctic.

According to reports, people living in Arctic region do not have access to reliable, secure telecommunication solutions. Meanwhile, the region is seeing a surge in demand for reliable polar communication.  “As the Arctic becomes more accessible, the U.S. and its allies need reliable communications to maintain a safe and secure presence,” said Paul Scearce, director of military space advanced programs at Lockheed Martin.

The company is hoping that the MUOS satellites will enable these people to benefit from secure, reliable communications.  

Dr. Amy Sun , lead for Narrowband Advanced Programs at Lockheed Martin, said that they did these evaluations to explore growing arctic communication demand, yet it also highlighted the dramatic capability improvements the WCDMA architecture will provide.

“Using MUOS, we were able to communicate from the aircraft at high latitudes, which wasn't the case for the legacy Ultra High Frequency signal.”

Lockheed Martin’s funded tests demonstrated that MUOS voice and data signals are capable of reaching much farther north. Previously, it was predicted that they can just reach 30 miles and 0.5 degrees of latitude shy of the North Pole.

Three difference radios, as far north as 89.5 degrees, under the peak orbit condition, were used to test capability of wideband code division multiple access (WCDMA). Company officials said that this voice and data access is well beyond the 65-degree system requirement.

Scearce expects that demand for consistent voice and data services will only increase in the Arctic region, as it is experiencing more shipping, tourism and natural resource exploration. “This is also likely to increase demands for search and rescue.”

Last year, Lockheed Martin performed two rounds of testing on an L-100 aircraft, the commercial variant of the C-130 Hercules. Company officials said that multi-hour flights set out from Barrow, Alaska to test transmit and receive capabilities.

Three terminal providers, General Dynamics (News - Alert) PRC-155 Manpack, the Harris PRC-117G Manpack and the Rockwell Collins ARC-210 V5 airborne terminal, were on board.  

Company officials said that anticipated shipping lanes will see full coverage 24 hours a day, with signal gradually dropping off farther north to 89.5 degrees. This can be achieved at peak orbit conditions. At reduced durations, airborne terminals can connect further north than sea level terminals.

The company believes that Antarctica might also throw-up similar performance results.  It intends to evaluate MUOS signal strength there, too.

Last year in December, Lockheed Martin completed on-orbit testing of the second MUOS satellite and handed over spacecraft operations to the U.S. Navy.

Edited by Cassandra Tucker

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